Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Much Anticipated Day

Every member of our family counted down the days until today for one reason or another.

Jeff is at a Men's Retreat at the camp. Need I say more?

This morning was the Harvest Exchange. This is the second time The Harvest Church in Granger has had an exchange where people donate whatever they would have sent somewhere else, and they invite everybody and their brother to go"shop"....but it's ALL FREE!! Alyssa went with me last time (before December), and has literally counted down the days until this one. We all found some great stuff! Plus, I got to see a lot of people I have come to like a whole that was fun!

So what, do you ask, was the find of the day? This hula skirt, found by Clara.

She wore it all day...even under the dress she wore to the next function we attended, and Kohl's after that. I just thought of it as a pink crinoline. :-)

The next part of our day we ALL looked forward to (except Jeff because he was at the previously mentioned Men's Conference and probably didn't even know what time it was all day.) The church we have been attending held a "Mommy, My Doll, and Me" tea party where all the little girls, their mothers, and their favorite dolls were supposed to dress in all their finery and eat petit fours and drink mint juleps. mint juleps, but we did have petit fours and lots of other good stuff.

Alyssa got to stay home, which is why she looked forward to it...PEACE for two hours (peace and quiet is a precious commodity these days.)

I looked forward to making the little ones a dress and going somewhere special with three of my girls. I will say, however, that when I thought of making the girls a dress for a tea party, I pictured sunshine, linen, brightness, and WARMTH. Therefore, I made the little ones some very cute Fancy Nancy sundresses. Yes...sundresses.... because God shows favor on Georgia at this time of the year, and I am used to sunshine, warmth and brightness. (They don't call it 'God's Country' for nothing.)

So anyway, I digress....

The other three girls were very excited for obvious reasons...boas, tiaras, lip gloss, and dressed up baby dolls (and high hopes for sugary treats of some sort.) Not to mention, brand new Fancy Nancy dresses! (I wish you could hear Megan say that.)

So, when left the house this afternoon, it was 42 degrees...yes, 42 degrees and RAINING! We didn't care. We wore our hats and sundresses anyway...with t-shirts underneath and sweaters on top. Still...very fancy.

 Emilie and her new friend. She's a very sweet girl and I am so glad they have hit it off!!

 The very elegant cupcake display.

 Cupcake wrappers turned American Girl tiaras.

 Princess Leia? 
(...and look at Clara's face. hee hee...I wonder what she is thinking?)

 A rare shot with me in it.

Tonight, it snowed. Not much, but WAY TOO MUCH for the end of April. I can honestly say that I have not felt very homesick the last few days...I am making progress....however, I could use a little help here! More snow is forecasted for Monday, so we shall see. I guess I better keep those cardigans out, because it looks like we might need them for Easter.

And somebody needs to fire that groundhog.

Many Blessings!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Another Exercise in Humility

One time, about five or ten years ago, I prayed for humility.

I did not pray for it repeatedly. A soon as I prayed for it, I realized what I had done and quickly decided I was not up for that challenge. I decided to, instead, pray for something much more attainable.... like world peace.

As it turns out, God has a great memory.

In the last ten years, I have been humbled in every way imaginable. Don't get me wrong....I still have my areas of pride that I have to work on continually, but they are not still there for lack of lessons on God's part. They are still there due to a hard head and slow learning on my part.

This past week, I saw some pictures of myself that were, frankly, disgusting. It took me a minute to even recognize myself. Instead of letting it depress me, I have tried to use it as motivation to train for the triathlon in September (I still can't say that without laughing). One of the things that has held me back from exercising these last few years were my feet. No matter what activity I did or what shoes I wore, my feet would hurt...I mean excruciatingly so....I felt like I was being stabbed. I have been to orthopedists and podiatrists and no one had answers I could afford.

Two days ago, I decided I was going to find some shoes, no matter what. I spent hours shopping for shoes that would feel good on my too wide, very flat feet, and would also fit my budget. Without boring you with details, I will just say that I found some I was SURE would work. I did laps around the store in them ( was a sight to see) with no pain, so as far as I was concerned, I was good to go!

This morning (Saturday), we woke up and decided as a family that we were going to the Y to workout. I downloaded some new music onto Jeff's MP3 that he so graciously was willing to let me use (I never did figure Alyssa's out, and she wanted it back anyway), and I was pumped and ready to go. I danced all the way out the door to the car and knew I was going to knock it out at the gym. I went in, put my new shoes on, and hopped onto the track. Two laps later, I couldn't even walk because my feet hurt so bad.
AAAAAGGGHHH!!!! What in the world is it going to take for me to exercise without foot pain?

So anyway, I very calmly strolled to the bike, as if that's where I was headed anyway, but that even hurt my feet. I really thought I was going to cry. I stood up and started some stretches against the wall, praying that would help.

Still no relief.

I had a decision to make. I wanted to leave. However, before we left the house today, Jeff said,

"Jeannie, do you want to drive separately? Alyssa and I are going to be working out for a good, solid hour, and last time you looked bored after about 20 minutes."

I said,

"No way, Jose. I have good shoes and good music, and you are probably going to be waiting on me!"

(See how that pride gets me in trouble?)

He reluctantly agreed, and we proceeded to the gym. So after two laps, I was not ABOUT to tell Mr. Bryant that I needed to go home, so I did the next best thing. I limped down the stairs to the front desk and whined like a baby to the lady at the front desk about how bad my feet hurt and "what in the world can I do to help my feet?"

Thankfully I have come to know her pretty well these last few months, and she was very supportive. She tried to get a personal trainer to the desk to answer some questions, but there was not one around. (They probably hid when they realized it was the crazy woman with crazy children.) While we talked, however, I did a lot of stretches (using the desk to push against), and my feet seemed to feel better. So, once again, I headed to the workout room.

Well, I still don't have my act together there, either. I hopped on that blasted elliptical that, once again, nearly killed me in the first thirty seconds. Then I realized that I had forgotten to pick up a bottle of sanitizer from the desk. I proceeded to ask the lady beside me if I could use hers. She was willing to let me use the spray, but looked at me like she was completely disgusted that I wanted to use her I went to the desk to get her another one. At that point, she was giving me such strange looks I could not humiliate myself any further by trying to exercise beside her.

I turned around and hopped on a bike for about two seconds, but couldn't get the height adjusted correctly without looking inept. (Event though I pretty much am inept where workout equipment is concerned.)

It was then that I considered giving up.

But I looked up to the track and Jeff and Alyssa were going strong. Ugh! I could not let them see me I went to get a drink of water, found some music that would get my heart thumping, and jumped on a treadmill. I was going strong. The beat was going, I couldn't hear a thing around me, I was snapping and had a little hop in my step. I really wanted to DANCE! (However, I was sure trying to dance on a treadmill would be my most embarrassing feat yet.)

People were starting to look at me. It started out as sly, half-way, 'I'm not looking at you but I really am' kind of looks.

I just knew they were jealous...I thought, "I bet they would LOVE to know what I am listening to. I'll never tell. I'm just gonna make them wonder."

I was just a gettin' it!

But people continued to look, but in larger numbers and they were being much more obvious about it, and I was beginning to get a little self-conscious. I still wrote it off to jealousy ( as if! ), and kept on going with a big ol' smile on my face.

I knew my breathing was getting a little heavy, so I tried to slow that down, but no matter what I tried, people were still looking at me.

I was feeling the beat and felt like I was getting a real workout, but could not figure out why in the world people were staring. I had no zipper to be 'down' in my elastic waistband shorts. I knew I cleaned my mouth after breakfast, and I had not used the restroom there, so I knew there was no toilet paper hanging from my shoe.

What are they looking at????

Well, as it turns out, the beat I was feeling was not just in my music. Apparently, every time I stepped my heavy foot on that treadmill, it was going, "Bang...Bang...Bang...Bang....", and had been doing so for at least fifteen minutes. Oh, brother. I am beginning to wonder if  I will ever go to the Y without embarrassing myself.

So I slowed everything down, finished my workout, and my visions of dancing and singing on the stage of my imagination were wiped away with my sanitizing spray.

At that point Alyssa and Jeff were finished and were waiting on me, so it looked like I had actually worked out longer (only, Jeff is no dummy). I went to the restroom with Emilie so we could get our stuff. I changed back into my old shoes and turned around to find Emilie had disappeared. She had stepped around the corner to put some chap stick on before leaving the gym. She quickly reappeared with shiny lips, her purse on her bent arm, and her pink sequin scarf. At least that girl knows what her priorities are and keeps at them. :-)

And so the "get in shape" saga continues....I am sure there will be many more adventures to come. However, I am hoping they become fewer and farther between. Jeff has always said that I enter every room with a story, and it always begins with, "You will NOT believe what happened to me." It was one of the things he fell in love with, so at least I have not disappointed my man. In spite of so many other things changing in our lives, it seems this has been a least I'm consistent. :-)

And don't worry, I will NOT be praying for humility again for a VERY LONG TIME!!

Have a blessed day!!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

A Perfect, Spring-Like Day

I am praying that today was the beginning of some fabulous weather. I have to say, "Spring-like", because there is always that chance that it will be snowing next week, but for today.....the weather here was GREAT! It stayed in the high 50's to low 60's ALL DAY and my feet were FREE!!

Clara and Megan spent some quality time soaking in the rays.

 They had a ball on the play scape.

This sweet girl is definitely building some muscles!

We played in the big field across the street.

Alyssa had a friend over, and they spent a long time walking around in the beautiful, old cemetery behind our house.

We roasted hot dogs over the fire,

and had s'mores for dessert.

We even had our very own "s'mores bartender." You could also call her our "mallow-hop". Either way, Emilie had it all laid out, making it so much easier and more fun for the rest of us.

The girls rode bikes....all of them...

 (Would someone please get this child's hair out of her face? Where is her mother??)

and played many rounds of hide-and-go-seek. (Sorry, no pictures. I thought  I might give away their hiding places if I took pictures of them hiding...and then they would be mad at me.) :-)

Overall, one fan-tabulous day!!

I hope that where ever you were today, your day was beautiful, too!


Friday, April 8, 2011

Half of a Year

I can hardly believe it, but April 4th marked exactly 6 months since we left Georgia. Can you believe we have already been here for half of a year?

In half of a year:

I have cried more than ever. I have been more homesick than I ever could have imagined was possible, but I have also seen and felt the hand of God in a way I could have never imagined. He has provided for us physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally in some ways I never would have fathomed.

I learned that winter must last almost half of a year here, because in six months, I have seen more snow than grass, but you know what? We survived!! Our first winter is behind us and my feet are almost free!!

Our family has grown in many ways....our character has grown as we have learned to live in much closer proximity to each other than we are accustomed to. We have grown closer emotionally as we have had to lean on each other more than ever. We have grown spiritually as we have had to depend on the hand of God for so many provisions.

Clara has flourished and all four girls love Michigan. There are so many fun things to do here.

We got a dog!

Despite the pain of being ripped from everything comfortable in my life and missing the people I love so dearly and deeply, I wouldn't trade it for anything. It has made me appreciate the people I love at home, and I think being ripped out of my comfort zone was the only way God could have gotten my attention to work on so many things he needed to work on in my heart. That is what it is all about...growing in my relationship with  my God I love so dearly, and hopefully shining His light to all who are around me. Not to mention, we really have met some fantastic people here and I know that as time passes, those friendships will grow deep and close like the ones we have at home. It just takes time.

We have been told it takes a year to settle six months to go! The fact that we are here at all is proof of God's faithfulness and we know for certain this is where He wants us. He never promises the road will be happy or easy....but He does promise He will be with us, and He has been...and there is joy (and tears) in the journey.

I heard this song for the first time today, and I think I have already listened to it about 10 times. It is all about what we pray for and how God answers those prayers. I hope it touches your heart the way it did mine! (You will have to pause the music playing on the blog by scrolling down to the music box widget and clicking on "pause".)

Much Love!